Deer Valley High student advocates for organ and tissue donation, takes first prize in contest

Erika Villanueva with her winning artwork.

Deer Valley High School senior, Erika Villanueva, won first place in the 2017 Holiday Card Art Contest. The art competition is organized by Donor Network West, the organ and tissue recovery organization for northern California and Nevada.

Villanueva’s artwork, which displays two hands holding a red heart with a golden tree within it, was inspired by the contest’s theme, Families make miracles happen: The Gift of organ and tissue donation.

“I used the tree and the flower of life which signify human continuity through the generations,” says Erika, whose design was selected from high school student entries in Donor Network West’s service area of 40 counties.

“Our annual high school art contest is a vehicle for bringing organ and tissue donation and transplantation learning modules into the classroom, with the added benefit of sparking student-led conversations about the importance of being registered donors,” says Ayanna Anderson, Senior Community Development Liaison of Donor Network West.  “We applaud students like Erika for their imaginative designs, and their passion for our mission of saving and healing lives.”

Anderson presented the prize at the school and met principal, Kenneth Gardner, and ceramics instructor, Wendy Marchetti. The latter served as mentor to the student and encouraged her participation in the contest.

The Art Contest winners were selected through several rounds of judging by Donor Network West staff and organizational leaders. Villanueva won a $500 gift card and her winning design was featured as Donor Network West’s holiday card.

Nearly 900 people are waiting for an organ transplant in Contra Costa County. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people and a tissue donor can heal more than 75 others. Anyone can register as a donor at or at the DMV. For more information on the Art Contest visit:

About Donor Network West

Donor Network West saves and heals lives by facilitating organ and tissue recovery for transplantation. The organization was established in 1987, and is an official Donate Life organization accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB). Federally designated to serve 40 counties in northern California and Nevada, Donor Network West partners with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the state-authorized donor registries. For information, visit and find us on social media: @mydnwest.

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